7 December 2016 New Zealand Is Wide Open!

(photo Venture Southland)

For those wondering about the latest regarding the earthquake near Kaikoura last month, the clean-up in that area is going faster than expected, with road access to Kaikoura from the south expected within weeks. We're pleased to say that the local wildlife operators and services we use in Kaikoura are all operational and eagerly awaiting visitors when road access to the public at large resumes.

Because the road north from the Picton/Marlborough region to Kaikoura remains closed (our usual route) and the timing for its reopening uncertain, we have made alternative arrangements for the remainder of this summer season. The good news is, New Zealand has SO many wonderful places to go and great things to do that we can never pack them all into one tour, so this gives us a chance to show off other parts of the country and activities we've always wanted to include--like the relaxing alpine thermal resort town of Hanmer Springs, the charming French settlement of Akaroa on wildlife-rich Banks Peninsula, and more time in the wine, artisan, and outdoor capital of Nelson. Talk to one of our Travel Shepherds for details on specific tours and keep checking back here for more news and updates. 

21 November 2016 Thar She Blows!

Great news from the weekend is that a number of whales were spotted in the Kaikoura region following last week's quake (see link below). The township itself is also busy working to get back up and running as quickly as possible, with damage to the township itself far less than originally feared. 

Work continues to focus on restoring access to Kaikoura and the other communities which have been cut off by road damage from Monday‚Äôs quake, and to establishing safe and reliable alternative routes. 
Black Sheep HQ is also busy making alternative provisions in case access to Kaikoura is not restored before our scheduled tours in the new year. If you are currently booked on an upcoming tour which had Kaikoura as a destination, we appreciate your patience as we fine tune these changes which we hope to finalise in the next week. Rest assured, the wait will be worth it! In the meantime, let's hear it for the whales! (pic Whalewatch Kaikoura)  

17 November 2016 Earthquake Update

Well, New Zealand has been quite the little attention seeker these last few days, hasn't it? While our recent earthquake event has had a significant impact on communities in north Canterbury in the South Island, the rest of New Zealand is still wide open for business. The main area affected is Kaikoura, a small community approximately 2 1/2 hours' drive north of Christchurch. Kaikoura is currently inaccessible by road. We are redirecting upcoming tours that pass through that area, using inland roads that avoid Kaikoura and exchanging planned Kaikoura stays with great alternatives (our Travel Shepherds can provide details depending on your tour interest once these plans are finalized). To find out the latest news and other travel information, follow this link: NZ Emergency Information & Contacts.

 15 November 2016   Kaikoura Earthquake

Yesterday, parts of New Zealand were shaken awake by Mother Nature's firm hand when a 7.8 magnitude quake hit north of Christchurch just after midnight. We're used to the occasional rock and roll down here--it's what makes our mountains tall and our rivers wide. The quality of our buildings is high and most earthquakes go unnoticed, occurring in unpopulated areas. Unfortunately, yesterday's event got our attention, with landslides creating severe damage to the state highway running along the South Island's northeast coast and isolating the small seaside town of Kaikoura, a popular tourist destination. 

We are pleased to report that, while we did have a Private Tour in Kaikoura at the time, we were able to successfully evacuate our Black Sheep yesterday evening, and they spent a much more comfortable night in Christchurch than they did the night before! To clarify world news headlines, Christchurch itself was not affected by the quake and our group, led by guide extraordinaire Dean (below), will be continuing their Black Sheep journey today, heading to our beautiful West Coast region. The brunt of earthquake damage is primarily confined to the Kaikoura area and our Black Sheep Travel Shepherds are busy employing their amazing 'Plan B' skills to redirect itineraries that were scheduled to go through Kaikoura this season. 

If you have concerns about the impact of the event on your travel plans, or wish to get in touch with anyone travelling with us, please don't hesitate to contact us here in New Zealand at info@blacksheeptouring.co.nz, phone +64 3 540 3221, or 1 800 206 8322 in the US. Thoughts are with all those affected and to those working tirelessly to bring services to the area.